As people have soaked in God’s presence, they have experienced profound heart changes. Their marriages have been healed, their fears dispelled, depressions and sicknesses have left and lives have been transformed. Our ministry teams continue “soaking” people to this day, nearly ten years later, as they pray for folks waiting for prayer on our prayer lines.
BUT WHAT IS “SOAKING”?
During previous revivals people referred to it as “waiting on the Lord” or “tarrying” as they lingered expecting God’s revival blessings. Although “soaking” includes waiting on the Lord, in this present move of the Spirit it means much more than that. To “soak” in God’s presence is to rest in His love rather than to “strive” in prayer.
As the person receiving a touch from God begins to connect with the reality of the Holy Spirit’s presence, he often responds by falling or simply lying on the floor. As he rests expectantly in God’s presence, often the Holy Spirit hovers over the person to reveal more of God’s love and to renew and repair areas of a person’s life. As the believer soaks in God’s presence, the Lord takes control and begins to draw his attention to God’s word either in the scriptures or through internal audible impressions or pictures he sees in his mind’s eye.
Carol likes to compare soaking to making pickles. A few years ago, I found a classical Greek word study on the Greek words bapto, meaning to dip, and baptidzo, meaning to immerse. The article used the illustration of making pickles. The recipe called for the raw fruit to be dipped in boiling water to blanch or sterilize the cucumber, using the word bapto which means “to dip in and out quickly.” Then it called for the cucumber to be immersed, using the word baptidzo, and soaked in the brine and the pickling solution for several weeks. What happens during this soaking time is that the marinade or the pickling solution soaks deep into the flesh of the cucumber until it takes on the flavor of the pickling solution so that it no longer tastes like a raw cucumber.
This is what we mean by soaking. May you be so marinated in the presence of the Holy Spirit, soaking in the River of God, that you no longer “taste” like your old, raw nature any longer, but you have taken on the flavor of the Holy Spirit. “Pickle us, Lord, in the marinade of the Holy Spirit. Soak us in your wonderful presence until we become more and more like You.”
WHY DO I NEED TO SOAK?
There is a deep need in every one of us to be close to God. Experiencing God is something to be sought after and not avoided. While we base our theology on God’s Word, our experiences with God make it all come alive. The Bible is a book of experiences of men and women of God throughout history, whose lives were changed through divine encounter. Your life will be changed as well as you encounter Him.
WHERE CAN I SOAK?
In Toronto, we conclude every meeting with a time of soaking prayer. People stand for prayer on our prayer lines and our ministry team will come and minister to them, praying such things as “Lord, come and give them more of your presence; more of Your love.” They may stand there or often rest in the Spirit as they fall in God’s presence. Because of the many people who experience this phenomenon in our meetings, we assign every prayer team member a “catcher” to assist the person receiving prayer by standing behind them as the prayer team member prays for him. This allows the person receiving prayer to relax and be less anxious about what might happen if he falls.
Soaking prayer is something that you can also do in your own home.
You can be alone, or just with your spouse or children, or you can invite several friends over who can take turns praying for one another. Steve Long, one of our pastors at CTF, was one of the first on our staff to begin soaking at home by himself. He would put on a CD, lie down on the floor and let the intimate worship draw him into a beautiful refreshing time with the Lord.
Jeff Metzger, a pastor from Akron Ohio, was one of the first to have group “soaking prayer” going on in his home, and he’s been doing it for over seven years. People are free to come and go as they please, yet they are encouraged to enter quietly, lie down on the floor and experience a restful revitalizing time with the Lord. Many changed lives have resulted from attending the soaking times at Jeff’s home. I met a man from Germany who started inviting friends over to his house just to soak in the presence of God. He has been doing it for years, because he couldn’t find a church near him that was flowing in the River.
SO HOW DO I SOAK?
Although you don’t have to lie down, you may sit in a chair or lie on your bed, the main thing is to be in a safe place so you can be vulnerable. Set your affection on Jesus. I like to soak while listening to intimate worship music with meaningful words that quiet my soul and help me draw near to God. As you reflect on the cross and all that Jesus has lovingly purchased for you, begin confessing your sins to Him and longing to be close to Him. After a few moments, you will become aware of the Holy Spirit’s unseen presence. People experience Him in many ways: a weight upon your body, an electric tingling upon your hands or face, or a warm sensation of love going through your heart which connects you to Him. This is how you grow to love anyone, by a series of several encounters that bond you together.
It is not only a rational process; your heart must be engaged.
Experiencing God’s presence is what will cause you to love the Lord with all your heart and soul. (Matthew 22:37) Humble yourself before Him. Give all your worries and cares to the Lord talking to Him about them. Pray a prayer like this. “Lord Jesus, I invite You to come and search my heart. Come close and let me know Your love.” Let worship rise up inside you and give yourself to the Lord. If you become distracted, then re-focus on Jesus. Remind yourself why you are soaking and listen to the worship music.
CAN I TRUST THAT IT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKING?
Yes you can. Remember, everything we receive from God we receive by faith. Faith must be positive and focused on God. (Not negative and fearful, focused on the enemy.) Jesus said in Luke 11:11- 13, “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” The key is intimacy. It is not a program to be run and managed, but a relationship to be maintained,
HOW LONG DO I CONTINUE SOAKING?
It usually takes me fifteen minutes to quiet the business of life and enter into rest. But Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, and He wants you to enter into His rest. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace, so we need to take quality time with Him. You cannot force or hurry this. The idea is not to “get” something but to “be” with someone. Take time just to be with Him; to love Him and let Him love you. If you fall asleep, that’s OK. If you are interrupted, you can always come back for more. You will know when your time is finished. You will feel a satisfaction in your heart and a release to go and get on with life.
Occasionally people can become quite emotional during soaking prayer. God may want to touch deep places in the heart. There are often areas of past wounding where we are very reluctant to go. That is often the very place that the Lord wants you to revisit so that He can bring freedom and healing to areas of fear and pain. It is helpful to have friends and even experienced ministry people in the room so they can love you through this and help reassure you to go ahead in faith in order to, so as to bring closure to these areas.
IS “SOAKING” IN THE BIBLE?
Here’s some of what the Bible has to say. (NKJV)
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…”
“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
“Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”
“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.”
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest.”
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!”
“But whoever listens to Me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.”
“And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.”
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her. I will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her.”
This is about spending quality time with God without having a program to maintain. It is a time to focus on a relationship with the Lord where lives are truly changed.
John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) and Overseers of Partners in Harvest Network of Churches. John is known for his teachings on the Father’s Love, Grace and Forgiveness and the Holy Spirit's power. He continues to impart wise counsel and provides a strong framework for those who want to see the power of God manifest in their church.